Socio-Economics History Blog

Socio-Economics & History Commentary

Eliminating Symptoms of Parkinson Through Electrical Stimulation

  • Great news for people with Parkinson’s disease. The Guardian UK reports :
     
    Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in mice disappeared when their brains were stimulated via spinal electrodes
     
    A ground-breaking medical device that eliminates the symptoms of
    Parkinson’s disease by electrically stimulating the brain could be tested in humans as early as next year, according to scientists working on the project.
     
    The device has produced dramatic improvements in mice with a Parkinson’s-like disease, raising hopes that it could transform the lives of the four million people worldwide who have the devastating condition.
     
    In tests, mice that suffered constant tremors and were barely able to walk because of the disease started moving around, groomed themselves and began eating and drinking normally when the device was switched on.
     
    “If we see the same effect in people as we see in rodents, then Parkinson’s patients will be able to walk and move around the way they could before the disease came on. This could lead to a very dramatic improvement in their quality of life,” said
    Miguel Nicolelis, the neuroscientist who led the study at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
     
    Nicolelis is one of the world’s leading researchers on “brain-machine interfaces”. In recent years,
    he has developed brain implants that can read people’s thoughts, allowing them to move cursors on a screen and even use artificial limbs. Such devices are expected to lead to a new generation of mind-controlled prosthetics for the severely disabled.
      ……
    Nicolelis’s research suggests it may be possible to control the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease more easily, and with less drastic surgery, by sending electrical pulses along spinal cord nerves and into the brain. The stimulation would cause a tingling sensation, Nicolelis told the Guardian, but the brain would soon adapt to this, in the same way we become used to having clothes rubbing against our skin.
     
    The team is now testing the technique at a lab in Brazil to see if it works in primates. If the experiments are successful, the device could be cleared for clinical trials in humans next year.
     
    “If we can demonstrate that the device is safe and effective over the long term in primates and then humans, virtually every patient could be eligible for this treatment in the near future,” Nicolelis said.
     
    Dr Kieran Breen, director of research and development at the
    Parkinson’s Disease Society, said: “Deep brain stimulation can be very effective in the treatment of some people with Parkinson’s, but it is very invasive to the brain and can cause side effects. This new study suggests that it may be possible to stimulate the nerves in the spine to send an electrical signal up into the brain with a similar effect to that seen in DBS, without being as invasive.”
      
    “These initial studies have been carried out in animals,” he added, “but if they become possible for people with Parkinson’s, it could greatly increase the range of treatment options available for the condition. An operation of this kind would cost significantly less than DBS, so is likely to be more widely available.”

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March 23, 2009 Posted by | Medicine & Health, Science & Technology | Comments Off on Eliminating Symptoms of Parkinson Through Electrical Stimulation

Zimbabwe Chooses South African Rand as Reference Currency

  • The Zimbabwean government is a ‘positive’ model of how to hyper-inflate the economy and engineer a successful monetary collapse. Not that they are a bunch of geniuses, any idiot with half a functioning brain should be able to destroy the economy. Makes you wonder what kind of idiots we have in government. Soon we will have United States of ZimbAmerica.
     
  • XinHua reports :
      
    The Zimbabwean government has chosen the rand as the country’s reference currency but will not randify the economy, local media said.
     
    Speaking at the launch of the Short-Term Economic Recovery Program (STERP) on Thursday, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said the government had chosen the rand because South Africa was Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner and the most competitive country for assessing prices and wages. 
     
    “Given the United States dollar price structure we are starting with, and the impossibility of restoring competitiveness through currency devaluation when we are using foreign currencies, it is important that we link ourselves to a currency that is more proximate to us,” said the minister. 
     
     The choice of the currency was determined by economic factors as well as the future intention of SADC to adopt a common currency, which inevitably will have to be based on the rand given the dominance of the South African economy in the region. 
     
    Opting for the rand as the reference currency should in no way reduce Government’s commitment to multiple currency use, the minister said. 
       
     “It is, however, the first step in anticipating an epoch when we can resume use of the Zimbabwe dollar,” he said. It was, nonetheless, necessary to first restore the multi-currency economy to a reasonable and sustainable level of activity. 
        
    “STERP, responding to the hyper-inflationary environment, will permit use of multiple currencies for all business transactions, including stock exchange trading, sale of agricultural commodities and payment of salaries. 
       
     “All taxes will, therefore, be paid in foreign currency,” the minister said. 
     The government adopted a multiple currency trading system last month where the rand, the U.S. dollar and Botswana pula operate as legal tender alongside the Zimbabwean dollar. 
       
     The US dollar and the rand have, however, been the two major currencies in use in the country. The move was part of efforts to achieve economic liberalisation to pull the economy out of the present challenges. 
        
         

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March 23, 2009 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Comments Off on Zimbabwe Chooses South African Rand as Reference Currency

Two Million March Across France

french-protest

Protesters denounce M. Sarkozy's economic strategy in Paris - Reuters

  • More turmoil in the world. Now a major country of the EU, France is protesting. Sarkozy definitely has his work cut out for him. The Independent reports :
     
    Sarkozy fears revolt as two million march across France
    President Nicolas Sarkozy was facing the prospect of a deepening social and political revolt yesterday after more than two million people took to the streets to protest against his handling of the global recession.
     
    French trades unions succeeded in mobilising even more protesters than for their previous, impressive show of strength in late January. A day of strikes in the public and private sectors did not bring the country to a halt but disrupted transport, schools and government offices, newspapers and radio stations and some factories.
     
    M. Sarkozy is known to be worried that a lingering and hot-tempered dispute over university reforms could merge with the anger generated by the recession to create the kind of April-May street revolt that France has known in the past, notably in 1968. 
     
    Yesterday’s protests in 200 towns and cities, including a raucous march by about 350,000 people in Paris, passed off peacefully apart from the usual end-of-demo vandalism and missile-throwing by a minority. Police made 300 arrests last night after running battles with hooded youths.
     
    Judging by the faces and voices in the Paris march, the challenge to M. Sarkozy is coming not just from a hot-headed fringe, or from the usual suspects of the left, but from a groundswell of anger and fear among ordinary people. Nathalie Brisac, 48, a teacher training instructor, said: “I have never attended a demonstration before. There is no point in protesting against the recession, but we can demand fairness in the way the government responds to it: less money for bankers and more for ordinary people.”
     
    A poll suggested the protests were supported by 74 per cent of French voters. With unemployment over two million, the unions want M. Sarkozy to protect jobs, boost wages and scrap his 50 per cent tax “ceiling”. 

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March 23, 2009 Posted by | Economics, Social Trends | , | Comments Off on Two Million March Across France

The Real AIG Conspiracy

aig-beneficiaries
  • Everyone and their dog is talking about the outrageous US$135M AIG bonuses. What they don’t understand is something called: switch and bait. The MSM seems awfully righteous, blaring away about these bonuses.
     
  • But what is the real problem? What is the major con job that is under way? This ‘bonus’ issue is just a distraction to hide what is really going on. Where are the US$ 183B disappearing to? Get it?
     

March 23, 2009 Posted by | Economics | , , | 3 Comments